Even though your home’s plumbing system isn’t going to last forever, you can do quite a bit to protect your pipes, sewage lines, and fixtures. With the proper maintenance and regular service calls, your plumbing system should work flawlessly for decades. Here is a quick look at a few of the most common causes of clogs, burst pipes, and other plumbing issues that you can avoid.
One of the worst things that you can do for your plumbing system is rinse food debris down the drains. Fatty liquids like grease and oil can harden in your pipes and cause clogs. Coffee grounds, eggshells, flour, and food scraps should all be thrown away, as they can catch on one another, collect, and create dense clogs of debris. While many assume that a garbage disposal in their sink will eliminate this problem, stringy foods like meat and vegetables can catch on the blades and cause problems there, as well. Garbage disposals also have no effect on grease and oils building up further down the pipe. It is therefore essential that you scrape the majority of your food waste into your garbage can and let your sink handle only what can be rinsed from the scraped dish surface.
Freezing temperatures aren’t necessarily bad for your pipes on their own, but you should be wary of thawing them out too quickly. Rigorously thawing your pipes could result in cracks and leaks that end up wasting thousands of gallons of water. Whenever the pipes freeze, you should open the closest faucets and turn up the heat inside your home. Try to ease the heating process slowly so that the water and piping material can contract safely. You can prevent freezing altogether using pipe insulation and pipe heaters if necessary.
Hard water is another factor that could eventually damage your pipes after a few years. Over time, those minerals will cling to the walls of your pipe and clog the system. Not only does this create clogs, but the harsh minerals can eat and wear at the interior of the pipes, as well. Investing in a whole-house water softening system is important to protect your pipes, faucets, and appliances. This is especially important in areas where the city water is minimally treated and may carry heavy metals or other dangerous contaminants.
The only items that should be flushed down your toilets are products that were specifically designed to be flushed. Even relatively small products like baby wipes and ear swabs can expand when they are exposed to water and get caught in the system. Tampons and pads are meant to hold many times their own size in water, making them prime for swelling and clogging when flushed. When those products get caught in a sewage line, the only way to remove them is with specialized tools that your local plumbing services are trained to use.
Cleaning out your pipes, clog or no, is another service that is best left to a professional plumber. While bleach is generally considered by many home-owners to be a cure-all cleaner when all else fails, pouring bleach down your drains for any reason could damage all of the gaskets and seals in your plumbing system. You must also avoid using any chemical-based drain cleaners because those products can eat away at gaskets and seals as well. This will result in much costlier damage than the clog or gunk collection that you are trying to clear.
While time and use eventually wear down even the hardiest of plumbing systems, the greatest causes of damage to your plumbing system is what you put down the drain. Ensure that you are using your plumbing system properly and using the proper professional services to maintain it. Doing so will greatly extend the life of your plumbing system, likely allowing it to outlast your time in the house itself.